I’m stuck – considering moving the flock to their own room

Sharing gives us wings!Share on Facebook12Pin on Pinterest1Share on Reddit0Share on StumbleUpon0Share on Google+0Tweet about this on Twitter

A while back I made some grand plans about moving the flock to their own room. It seemed like a great way to give them better sleep at night, as well as making their lives safer. It’s true, part of it may have also been so that the humans could use the kitchen at night!

Here’s where I started

what will be the budgie's roomAnd here’s how far I’ve gotten

moving the flockAs you can see, this is definitely not a bird haven! It’s still very much my whole room drying rack. But, I have some very good excuses for why the birds don’t have their own wonderland.

  1. Shortly after I wrote that post Kevin started singing consistently right before bed time, and I got terribly sad thinking about missing that if they were in a room down the hall.
  2. Everyone started a heavy molt and wanted to do nothing but sleep all day and loaf around. It seemed like a bad time to get them excited for anything new, especially a big change that they might find scary.
  3. Toby had a couple of night terrors and I got worried that I wouldn’t hear her in the new room. She tends to have a night terror when there are people still awake so it’s easy to turn up the light a little bit and help her get calmed down.
  4. Patrick pointed out that in that room it will be hard to keep the cages out of the air conditioning flow in summer. Where they are now the vent is directly above their cage and the air flows out so it never hits them directly.
  5. I have a lot of travel coming up for work, and I got worried about them being lonely while I was gone. Patrick takes good care of them, but he doesn’t like to let them out as much as I do. And that’s fine, I don’t expect him to obsess over them like I do. But, I can’t picture him devoting a couple hours a day to hanging out with them in another room, so it’s better if they are in the same room as him not forgetting that humans exist!

I’ll keep you posted, but for now it’s safe to assume the birds are staying put and the humans are still sneaking into the kitchen for a snack every evening.

Sharing gives us wings!Share on Facebook12Pin on Pinterest1Share on Reddit0Share on StumbleUpon0Share on Google+0Tweet about this on Twitter

Budgie morning noise – sleeping in on the weekends

Sharing gives us wings!Share on Facebook24Pin on Pinterest1Share on Reddit0Share on StumbleUpon0Share on Google+0Tweet about this on Twitter

It seems pretty common that flock parents struggle with budgie morning noise. Typically it’s a pure joy to hear the flock trilling away, but at the break of dawn after a late night is another thing entirely! Weirdly, even with the addition of the fantastic singing Kevin to the flock, our mornings are still quiet until at least 8am, if not later.

I think that we’re creating a situation that’s conducive to everyone sleeping until a reasonable hour in a couple of ways.

  1. The parakeets’ cage is not in our bedroom. I don’t recommend placing cages in bedrooms for several reasons, one of which is preserving the quality of your sleep. I bet it’s pretty hard to convince an eager parakeet they should sleep a couple more hours if they see you get up to use the bathroom at 6 in the morning. Keeping cages separate from human sleeping quarters buys you a bit of time before they are aware you’re stirring.
  2. We don’t use a Cage Cover, but all of the windows in the bird zone of the house have Blackout Curtains. Not only do the curtains block almost 100% of the light coming in, but they also help us block drafts. I totally recommend using Blackout Curtains, wherever your birds are. This reminds me that I only have blinds in the room we are moving the birds to, and I really need to get on the ball!

These are the only things I can think of that we do to impact the flock and their likelihood of singing in the early morning hours. So far I don’t think we’ve had a single weekend morning where we’ve been woken up by a pack of singing lunatics. Just this morning I woke Toby up at 8:30am.

I’d love to hear some other tips for keeping mornings calm and sleepy! Or does everyone else like being woken up at the crack of dawn on the weekends and I’m just a lazy bones with equally lazy budgies?

Sharing gives us wings!Share on Facebook24Pin on Pinterest1Share on Reddit0Share on StumbleUpon0Share on Google+0Tweet about this on Twitter

New flock order – there will be singing budgies!

Sharing gives us wings!Share on Facebook37Pin on Pinterest1Share on Reddit0Share on StumbleUpon0Share on Google+0Tweet about this on Twitter

For the two plus years when we only had female budgies I wondered what people were talking about when they complained of budgies that sang loudly all day. Toby and Kelly on their own were largely silent, except bouts of screeching and screaming at each other. Now that Kevin is integrated with the flock I finally know the joy of singing budgies!

When we first picked out Kevin at the pet store he was behind Plexiglas so we couldn’t hear him singing. But, we chose him in part because we could visually tell that he was singing his heart out. Upon bringing him home he made zero sounds for the time he was in quarantine, except for some weak flock calling to the girls. It was so sad, even though we played music for him constantly and budgie noises on YouTube, he was just not having any part of it. I think the poor fellow was so terrified all the time it seemed way too risky.

A couple of weeks after coming out of quarantine Kevin decided it was safe enough to try a little song. For a while every afternoon he would sing for a few minutes, and then presumably wait to see if anything came to murder him. Finding that there was no imminent threat, every day he sang more and more.

I love the sound of Kevin’s singing!  At first he was a bit rusty and quiet, and now he’s very warbly and melodic most of the time, and he loves to run through his whole catalogue of sounds.

The best part is that he’s convincing Toby and Kelly that there’s more to vocalization than screeching and flock calls. They all take part in the singing and even though there’s way more noise overall it’s SO much more pleasant. When they are all three singing their best songs it makes me a little bit misty to think they are a happy flock.

The other side of the coin, of course, is that I finally know what people are talking about when they say their flock’s singing rivals whatever is on the television! We were watching a movie last weekend and they sang along with everything and wanted to be the loudest thing in the room. So far it’s new enough to just be absolutely adorable, but I’m sure that will wear off.

When we had just the girls I tried for ages to get them to learn R2 D2 noises from a YouTube video. It was a total non-starter. I’ve tried again a few times since getting Kevin and shockingly, Kelly has picked up a few noises very quickly. I remember when she first came home that she had a lot more sounds than Toby, she even used to make a car alarm noise. But she definitely ended up limiting her range to whatever Toby would reproduce as well, and all the variety was gone in short order.

I couldn’t be happier with the noisy, happy sounds of our flock of three. I want to get some of it recorded but Kevin is still super camera shy and clams up as soon as he sees it come out. Given a few more weeks I’m sure he’ll be fully adapted to having a camera in his face at all times, just like the rest of them.

One other side effect of the singing is that it’s making me rethink moving them to another room. I feel like I might miss out on a lot of the good stuff, and I’m not sure I’m okay with that, even if it’s selfish in some ways. For now I want to enjoy all the singing all the time!

Sharing gives us wings!Share on Facebook37Pin on Pinterest1Share on Reddit0Share on StumbleUpon0Share on Google+0Tweet about this on Twitter

Dreaming about your budgies

Sharing gives us wings!Share on Facebook10Pin on Pinterest1Share on Reddit0Share on StumbleUpon0Share on Google+0Tweet about this on Twitter

Do you ever wake up and realize you’ve been dreaming about your budgies?  I’ve had a few dreams about mine in the past, and they tend to be surreal or disturbing! Here’s my notable budgie dreams.

  • I was in college and living in a dorm. I’m way out of college so that’s pretty weird right there! Toby is living in my dorm room with me, but she lives in a terrarium, and for some unknown reason she has to live under water. The water is gray, and gross, it looks like something a fish wouldn’t even be happy to swim in. Toby is happy as a clam though and as I’m leaving my dorm room I tell her I’ll be back soon!
  • I’m with Toby and Kelly and I’m in a shopping mall, in the middle of winter, and I have to go outside to get into another section of the mall. I don’t have a travel cage or flight harnesses, the birds are just on my shoulders, which is totally freaking me out being in public. In waking life I’m pleased that this strikes me as dangerous even in a dream. The parakeets keep flying off short distances and returning to me and I’m delighted that they are so well-trained (haha). Then before I walk out of the mall I give them a talking to and tell them they have to stay with me and can’t fly off. Upon walking outside they totally stick to me like glue and we make it to the next building!  Clearly a crazy dream, if either one of them actually got outside I know they would be gone in a heartbeat.
  • My last dream was about Kevin. My favorite band is America (they perform the song “Horse with no Name”). In my dream Kevin came walking into the living room on the floor and started singing an American song!  Not like budgie-warbling, he was literally singing the lyrics along with the music. In the dream, like in real life, he doesn’t say any human words at all, and I was in total awe.

I think that was a good silly Kevin dream. I’d love to hear what your budgie dreams have been like? Has anybody ever flown with their flock in a dream?  Please leave a comment or let me know on Facebook!

Sharing gives us wings!Share on Facebook10Pin on Pinterest1Share on Reddit0Share on StumbleUpon0Share on Google+0Tweet about this on Twitter

Popcorn and budgies – an update and note of caution

Sharing gives us wings!Share on Facebook29Pin on Pinterest5Share on Reddit0Share on StumbleUpon0Share on Google+0Tweet about this on Twitter

Last week, I published a post about the budgies experiencing popcorn for the first time. In response, a kind reader commented that in a budgie group recently, someone recounted the experience of having their budgie choke to death while they desperately tried to save her. The culprit was, of course, popcorn. I am so grateful to the person who let me know about the recent situation.

First, my heartfelt condolences go out to the person who so recently lost their pet in a tragic and traumatizing manner. Second, I would hate to ever espouse any course of action that might lead to a budgie being injured or worse.

I wondered whether popcorn is a frequent choking hazard, or if this was a one in a million incident. Writing this blog, even for a relatively small audience, I’m aware of a responsibility not to publish harmful or misleading information. At the same time, I’m just a budgie parent, not a vet or avian specialist, and I’m learning as I go along too.

In order to gather some more data about a possible link between popcorn and choking, I posed the question on a FB page called Feathered Friends. This page provides an incredible resource, with nearly 80,000 fans who are parrot enthusiasts and owners it’s an excellent place to post a question and get a ton of well-reasoned answers.

What I gleaned from the many responses was that a budgie choking on popcorn is not a common occurrence. Also, it confirmed my concept that, much like humans, a budgie could choke to death on anything they ate and it would probably not be possible to eliminate all dangerous foods.

I was also called ignorant (yay internet!). As I’m sure we all know, asking questions is the way we conquer ignorance!

Some folks did feel that popcorn is inappropriate for smaller parrots. So, before you decide to try popcorn as enrichment, weigh the risks versus the reward, but also know that we can be the best informed and the most well-intentioned bird owners, and tragedy may still strike.

As a best practice, make sure to remove all kernels from the popcorn you provide your budgies. I mentioned in the original post, the popcorn should be free of salt and butter. You can also remove any hull-like kernel pieces to reduce the risk of choking.

I think you can easily keep popcorn off the menu for your budgies and they won’t know the difference. I think you could give popcorn once a month for the next ten years and most likely nothing bad would happen (except you’d be cleaning up shredded popcorn once a month!).

The thing that’s important to me as someone who is concerned with honesty and transparency is that I let my readers know what I’ve found out about the possible dangers of popcorn. That way you can make a better informed decision for your budgies.

As far as things go for our flock, I will give Toby, Kelly and Kevin the chance to explore popcorn as often as we make it, which is about 4 times a year. While I understand there may be a risk inherent, I also don’t want to dwell in the fear of what might happen.

Sharing gives us wings!Share on Facebook29Pin on Pinterest5Share on Reddit0Share on StumbleUpon0Share on Google+0Tweet about this on Twitter

Hide your hands – Kelly is a biting parakeet

Sharing gives us wings!Share on Facebook11Pin on Pinterest7Share on Reddit0Share on StumbleUpon0Share on Google+0Tweet about this on Twitter

I realized recently that I never provided an update on Kelly’s hand-aggressive behavior.  In my last post on the subject, Hide your hands – Kelly is a teenager I ended on a somewhat hopeful or positive note, assuming there was a solution to this issue. I can now report I have not found the method to solve a biting parakeet.

Many people will tell you that A. budgies only bite when they are scared, and B. the bite of a budgie does not hurt. I am here to tell you that these statements are not absolutes. Kelly is not scared of us, and Kelly bites hard enough to cause pain, bruising and broken skin. She bites completely unprovoked, choosing to land on your hand and then biting incredibly hard.

I have tried the following conventional attempts to discourage biting with zero impact:

  • Gently wiggle your hand so the parakeet cannot keep its balance and learns to stop biting.  HAHA. Kelly seemed to either enjoy the wagging hand, or it made her angry thus increasing the frequency and pressure of the bites.
  • Blow in the budgies face lightly (which they dislike) until they learn that biting causes you to blow in their faces. Again, Kelly either ignores this or it makes her madder and she bites harder.
  • Say “no” or “ouch”, budgies are intelligent creatures and will learn that the behavior is undesirable. No impact.
  • Ignore the behavior until they learn that there is no consequence to biting and since it generates no reaction they stop. This is simply impossible as her biting hurts too much and you end up looking like you got a bunch of needle sticks in your hand from bruising! 
  • We also tried going the positive reinforcement route. This involved verbal praise for not biting as well as providing a treat. There was little to no impact as Kelly is not motivated by treats and does not care if we praise her.

I should add that the aggression is not limited to hands, she will land on your shoulder and bite your neck. She loves climbing in and out of shirt collars but we can’t let her do it anymore because she bites your chest and neck too much to bear it. This isn’t even aggressive initially, but if you try to redirect her she gets angry and bites harder.

I’m sure some of this is impacted by the fact that she’s in breeding condition, but it’s been an issue all along. She also has AMPLE appropriate toys and perches to destroy in her cage, which she enjoys.

Ultimately our solution has ben to take a hands off approach with Kelly. It stinks because I feel like we don’t have much of a relationship with her, but interacting  with us does not make her happy. Not that much does, she is just generally a real crab. If she had been our first bird I’m sure I would have quickly concluded that parakeets were difficult and violent pets!

I wanted to write this post for a couple of reasons, firstly so I don’t give the wrong impression that I managed to resolve this issue. But, more importantly, I want you to know that if you’re struggling with an aggressive budgie and people keep telling you that budgies aren’t aggressive you are not alone!  There are other angry parakeets out there biting their human flock for no reason who cannot be stopped.

If I do manage to reduce the aggression I’ll report back, but other wise it’s safe to assume that Kelly’s human flock is walking around with a few bites at all times! I should add that she has never harmed another parakeet. When she is  aggressive towards Kevin she focuses on trying to pull out his feathers. I’m not a fan of that behavior either, but if it was more serious I would think about separating her or even rehoming to an environment she might enjoy more. What that would be I have no idea!

Sharing gives us wings!Share on Facebook11Pin on Pinterest7Share on Reddit0Share on StumbleUpon0Share on Google+0Tweet about this on Twitter